Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba is a gateway to Peru’s bountiful Sacred Valley
The Urubamba River curves through Peru’s Sacred Valley, eddying and splashing toward Machu Picchu. Tourists seem to follow its momentum. They touch down in Cusco and hurtle through the Sacred Valley to get to that Inca citadel in the sky. Beyond a token stop at an alpaca farm or a weaving workshop, the valley rarely gets more than a passing night’s stay.
Anywhere else, this fertile land of quinoa, sweet potato, and purple corn would be the main attraction.
Here, ignored by most tourists, Quechua farmers tend their crops amid Inca ruins, 16th-century Spanish churches, and mountains said to embody the spirits of ancestors.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, a National Geographic Unique Lodge, celebrates this often-overlooked region. Lodge owners Jose Koechlin and Denise Guislain-Koechlin combined Inca-inspired masonry with Spanish colonial architecture, commissioned locals to weave textiles, and worked with area farmers to plant a 10-acre organic garden filled with native species such as golden berries and tree tomatoes. Guests go biking in the valley; learn to make chicha, or corn beer, on-site; or follow a naturalist on a lantern-lit hike.
And on their return to the lodge, Alfredo Quispetupa concocts glorious pisco sour at the hacienda bar as the sun sets on the Andes.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba offers 36 rooms and suites with panoramic views. Naturalists provide information on lodge conservation projects, including Inkaterra Asociacion, which helps protect the biodiversity and local communities of the Peruvian Andes.
The glorious Choco: Just an hour from Quito’s urban core, lies a land of birds, bears, and astounding biodiversity…
The cloud forests that drape the rolling mountainsides to the northwest of Quito’s Metropolitan District hold record-breaking biological diversity. An enigmatic world covered in the mist where thousands of tree, plant, and orchid species abound and unfathomable bird variety thrives. Many municipal, state-run reserves and private conservation projects harbor excellent opportunities for adventures in nature, and a range of accommodation options for all budgets.
World of Birds
Quito is one of the most megadiverse cities on our planet in terms of bird species: a world bird capital, home to an unparalleled variety. Countless bird-lovers have turned Ecuador’s capital into one of the highest-ranking bucket-list destinations in the world.
The Andean Spectacled Bear, the only South American bear, is one of the Quito region’s most emblematic creatures. It’s amazing to think that over 45 bears live in the wild just 2 hours from the city. The city’s Andean Bear Conservation Program aims to consolidate a corridor for bears, through research, monitoring, education, communication, and sustainable management.
Although elusive, several conservation projects exist that allow visitors the opportunity to spot bears in the wild, or at least see them through the images captured by dozens of camera traps.